Monday, October 22, 2007

Stations Face Fines Over Use Of Bush Anti-Gay Shill

Stations Face Fines Over Use Of Bush Anti-Gay Shillby Newscenter Staff
Posted: October 19, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET
(Washington) Two broadcast companies are facing FCC fines totaling $76,000 against two broadcast companies for failing to tell viewers that programs in 2004 featuring conservative columnist Armstrong Williams were sponsored by the Education Department.
Williams was hired by the Bush administration to promote its so-called marriage initiative that would have banned same-sex marriage in the Constitution and to promote the No Child Left Behind Act.
Williams (pictured) was paid nearly a quarter million dollars in 2003 by the White House to promote the President's agenda in his columns and nationally syndicated talk show. (story)
Williams did not reveal the existence of the contract even as he expressed his support for the agenda on the air.
The Federal Communications Commission says the two companies, which own multiple stations, violated sponsorship identification rules by not revealing Williams' financial relationship.
Sonshine Family Television Inc., owner of WBPH-TV in Bethlehem, Pa., is liable for a fine of $40,000 for airing five episodes of "The Right Side with Armstrong Williams."
The shows aired on 10 occasions in the first half of 2004 and included Williams speaking about the education law.
Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. of Baltimore was hit with a proposed fine of $36,000 for airing an episode of "America's Black Forum" in September of 2004, which also included Williams talking about the legislation.
The Sinclair stations involved are WABM-TV in Birmingham, Ala.; KSMO-TV in Kansas City, Mo.; WVTV-TV in Milwaukee, Wis.; WUXP-TV in Nashville, Tenn.; KOCB-TV and WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Fla; WPMY-TV in Pittsburgh; KABB-TV in San Antonio; and WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Fla.
The FCC said it began investigating following a complaint from Free Press, a public interest media watchdog group, and "several thousand other complainants".
The attorney-general reportedly is also looking into the relationship between Williams and the White House.
In 2005 the Government Accountability Office launched its own probe and concluded that the Education Department engaged in illegal "covert propaganda" by hiring Williams without requiring him to disclose that he was being paid. The Education Department's inspector general also reviewed the Williams deal.
Williams is a former aide to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In a column following the 2004 election Williams linked gay rights advocates with organized crime.
"Despite the rhetoric that you hear from the homosexual Cosa Nostra, the lack of support for the gay marriage amendment has nothing to do with prejudice," he wrote.
"It's not about trying to dictate to adults what they should do in the privacy of their own homes. Let's be clear about that. Opposition to the gay marriage amendment isn't about disallowing homosexuals the same basic rights we extend to everyone else. It is about recognizing that marriage between man and woman is the bedrock of our society. It is about the citizens of this country saying, en masse, that they are unwilling to deconstruct certain basic and essential norms in our culture and society."
After Williams was exposed the White House pulled the plug on the operation, but sources close to the investigation say that Williams did not return any of the money, nor did the administration request it.
After Williams was exposed two other cases came to light where the administration hired journalists to promote its agenda in the guise of unbiased commentary and news.
Syndicated conservative columnists Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus were paid by the administration to promote the marriage initiative.
In 2003 Gallagher testified before a Senate subcommittee in support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage but failed to mention she was on the White House payroll. (story)
McManus, whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appeared in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services.
© 2007

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